BGC welcomes “belated” reopening of casinos in England, urges Scotland and Wales to quickly follow suit but warns sector is “not yet out of the woods”
The news that casinos in England can reopen this weekend is “belated” good news and a “welcome relief” for the 12,000 employees working in the sector, but difficult days lie ahead for the industry according to standards body The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).
The UK Government has confirmed a revised reopening date of 15 August, ending two weeks of delay and uncertainty during which around half the casino sector jobs and high profile casinos such as the Hippodrome in London and Les Ambassadeurs in the city's Mayfair were said to be under threat.
Casinos had originally expected to open on 1 August but a last minute u-turn by the Government scuppered their plans and cost them millions of pounds in set up costs.
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the BGC said: “This belated good news will come as a welcome relief to the 12,000 people employed in the casino sector in England. We regret that it has taken so long for staff to return to work - long after all manner of venues and activities, that don’t have anything like the anti-covid measures you will see in any casino, were reopened.
“Given casinos had been cleared by Public Health England as safe to reopen and given we had the strong support of DCMS, who have been steadfast throughout, it was lamentable that our safe businesses had to suffer considerable hurt and expense with a further pointless two week delay.
“Casinos are not yet out of the woods though. The last five months has left many casinos on the brink and the next few months will be particularly crucial to their recovery as the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector slowly gets back on its feet. This sector can play an important part in our national economic recovery and I hope ministers will continue to work closely with the industry to provide support through this difficult period. In return, casinos will continue to play their part in helping to revive our city centres and nighttime economy, as well as supporting the country through the £1 billion economic contribution it makes in direct and indirect Gross Value Added."
Earlier this week, the BGC called for an extension of the furlough scheme to help offset the £14 million cost to the industry caused by the Government’s earlier u-turn.
Casinos in Scotland and Wales remain shuttered, although the Scottish Government has indicated that they can open on 24 August.
Michael Dugher added: “We hope that the Scottish Government will be true to its stated commitment about helping businesses, and allow casinos in Scotland to reopen as scheduled on 24th August. Casinos have invested heavily in new Covid safeguards. There can be no justification for further delaying their opening. We continue to urge the Welsh Government to fully engage with the sector and seek the reassurances we can provide to bring about the safe reopening of casinos in Wales.”